Down & UP in the Magic Kingdom!

Put this in the quirky memetic banter file …

So here is the clan, Thomson 9, Sydney 7, Sister Paula, my Dad and wife Andrea on the mandatory pilgrimage to Disney World in Florida.

https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/111927785652617267633/albums/58538080096…

You can see the whole album here: https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/111927785652617267633/albums/58538080096…

It was fun. I can’t help it.

But for those of you who share a uneasy awareness that Disney owns not only a place in our childhood life cycle, but also a place in our parent’s life cycle (this was a trip on Grandpa’s bucket list!) … here are a few tid bits that may entertain you in a quirky kind of way:

Highlight of the trip for me was reading Cory Doctrow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom while staying in the Park: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_and_Out_in_the_Magic_Kingdom

This might make me a terrible Dad, but this “fantasy destroying” moment made me proud of my children. Watch as we realize that they are being shunned by Minnie mouse! My son is embarrassed that we should have been more socially aware. Sydney makes the decision that the line up is not worth it. https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/111927785652617267633/albums/58538080096…

And finally, Walt Disney believed in a big canvass! Shaping hundreds of acres, materials and our common perception to his vision. He changed the world. I hope that you find it refreshing to realize that there is always a bigger canvass.

Context for this shot, we are stuffing our faces with ice cream, in a mecca of consumerism that is Downtown Disney: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/downtown-disney/. Veal calves.

The big brand bonanza, including LEGO land, is “disrupted” -

https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/111927785652617267633/albums/58538080096…

Have a great weekend everyone!

Cdling: building trust

We have extended our closed Alpha Group from our HTML5 mobile version onto the web.

Please sign up.  You can really help just by signing up.

Last week we poked up our heads to make an alpha release of our Cdling Scores. With the chart available at that link, you can quickly and easily see that Jason Calacanis has great instincts when it comes to assembling a diverse judging panel of established investors, Founders and influential analysts.

The same applies to helping investors in Ontario or the UK or Germany or NYC or Chicago or Asia or anywhere … build trust faster with investors in Silicon Valley.  Cdling Scores tell you a lot about a player in innovation at a glance.

Folks who took the time to check out the chart were galvanized by the insight.

Pulitzer prize winning Forbes journalist George Anders ask us to use Cdling Scores to compare the existing influence of the PayPalMafia with the emerging Facebook Friends.  With this kind of insight, the PayPalers can make better decisions about who they might co-invest with from the Facebook folks to help insure that they keep getting chances to get in on the best deals and have the best connections to help their existing portfolio of startups succeed.

We are grateful to Christine Wong at ITCanada for writing about what we are doing in an informed and entertaining way. And to her Associate Editor Brian Jackson for understanding that even when you are introducing a way for everyone to win, it is really, really hard to get folks to support a new approach.

Ford Taps Cloud-Based Prediction Market hosted by Inkling

From www.internetnews.com, Ford, CNN, General Mills, Cisco all trialing prediction markets …

“Ford Taps Cloud-Based Prediction Market

The cloud-based system from Inkling helps Ford Motor decide which new ideas are worth pursuing. Would you like an in-car vacuum?

February 21, 2011
By David Needle: More stories by this author:

Ford Motor Company’s stock price on the New York Stock Exchange has almost doubled in the past year, but that’s not the only stock market the company has interest in. The car maker is also tapping a cloud-based prediction market system to get a better handle on which new ideas to pursue.

The simulated stock market, being used by more than 1,300 Ford (NYSE: F) employees in the United States and Europe, encourages members to comment on various topics and issues through stock market-like trading. Ford is using a cloud-based collaborative prediction platform offered by Inkling, which has a number of other blue-chip clients in its stable, including CNN, Cisco, General Mills and Johnson & Johnson.”

These are more examples that Cdling is part of a larger trend.

Hurlos: Prediction Markets for Hurricanes

A friend sent me a link to this post at http://www.forecastingprinciples.com/marketsforforecasting/:

“Prediction markets for hurricanes

For those of you who are interested in prediction markets and/or natural hazards, an experimental prediction market this currently being run on hurricanes, where the proceeds are going to the Red Cross–up to $15k if they can get enough people to join, plus 3 people are randomly selected to receive $1000.

The market centers on predicting U.S. hurricane landfall locations for this season, and  earnings depend on one’s skill in forecasting where this season’s hurricanes will strike the U.S. gulf and Atlantic coasts. The experiment is being run by a private company (Weather Risk Solutions), who have designed the market as a potential means by which coastal homeowners might someday be able to hedge against hurricane losses.  It is currently being  run as an academic experiment, and hope to share any of the trading data with academics who might have an interest (email me if you are interested).

If you are interested, visit the site:  www.hurlos.com, where they will set you up with $5000 in play money.  They will donate $5 to the Red Cross for the first 3,000 people who participate, and at the end of the season randomly pick 3 people to receive a $1,000 cash prize (in real money).”

I think this is another example of how my proposal to apply prediction markets to seed stage investment decision making, is logical and part of a large and established ecosystem of companies that are part of the crowdsourcing landscape.

Why fairy tales are immortal. Jack Zipes.

How do you tell your fairy tale?

“A vibrant fairy tale has the power to attract listeners and readers, to latch on to their brains and become a living force in cultural evolution.

Certain fairy tales resemble memes, a term coined by Richard Dawkins to represent the cultural evolution and dissemination of ideas and practices.. These tales form and inform us about human conflicts that continue to challenge us: Cinderella (abusive treatment of a stepchild), Little Red Riding Hood (rape), Bluebeard (serial killer), Hansel and Gretel (child abandonment), Donkey Skin (incest). In fact, the memetic classical tales and many others have enabled us – metaphorically – to focus on crucial human issues, to create – and recreate – possibilities for change.”

Read the full piece on the Globe and Mail site.

Or sit back and enjoy this discussion involving Jack Zipes, Maria Tatar, Roger Rahtz, Donna Jo Napoli, Mark Lamos and Ann Cattaneco.

List of things to buy Michael for Christmas …

Why Fairy Tales Stick (2006) by Jack Zipes.

Best Buy Prediction Market

Built to Fade: zero is the new black

Perhaps, if you are motivated, we will create something meaningful together?

For about 19 months I have been wondering how and what to think about John Dumbrille’s ChangeThis Manifesto entitled, Built To Fade: The Advent of the Biodegradable Brand.

It is highly recommended reading for:

- everyone in marketing or corporate leadership,

- political leaders and advisers,

- anyone who is part of the environmental movement, or,

- everyone remotely interested in thriving in the new economic model.

IMHO, John didn’t really need to invite Naomi Klein’s No Logo or Seth Godin’s quip that “zero is the new black” into his manifesto.  He is a former Greenpeace activist and has chosen to live his life on Bowen Island.  Go there.  I don’t think Bowen is formally part of the Gulf Islands, but you can consider it a gateway to beginning your journey into a part of the world where the Celestine Prophesy can seem a lot more believable than the Invisible Hand. I have not met John but I trust that he lives his philosophy.  As he points out, it is his immediate reality that gives him unquestionable credibility. (Now try to achieve that effect with your toothpaste and you will get where this is going.)

I find Built to Fade so challenging to consider because John has brought into focus the essential conundrum of traditional broadcast branding.  He notes, “The success of conventional branding has been measured by the persistence of the literal and graphic associations that it forges.”  While John is specific in alerting us to the cynicism that green branding can quickly give away to, how can any communicator or marketer walk away unscathed when John points out that “The diversion of attention into a me-brand-good pseudo experience, the holy grail of brand building, is actually part of the problem.”?

space junk

By calling out the roots of Green brand building as a flawed experiment, Dumbrille relegates the entire traditional brand establishment to the status of space junk.

John hits his readers intimately - right in the morning coffee …

“When green brands manage to nurture egocentric self-cherishing among its users through packaging and advertising, a fundamental, environmental disjoin has taken place.  Huddled with my coffee, whether it’s fair trade certified or otherwise, I am indulged in an intimate branded moment. I rise above the pedestrian concerns of the depressed, middle-aged woman as she walks past the café. Later, I take a sip of my organic chai latte, place it in the drink holder and accelerate through a busy intersection. My “green” brand consciousness is anything but that. The phenomenon of being wrapped up in a brand idea is displacing my attention and connection to the environment that surrounds me right now.” (strike outs added by me)

Jeepers John!  Don’t wake me up while I am enjoying my coffee for chrisssake!  Do you want to start a riot?

Even remedial memetic branding can not pass the inspection …

“Mass media is in decline, and with it, conventional branding that pays the bills. For brand builders, a line of response has been to line Internet corridors with viral gadgets. These gadgets are intended to encourage people to assemble a memorable, and hopefully positive, image of the brand. Examples include sponsored YouTube videos and camouflaged blogs and comments. But, as we get better at filtering and as alternative, less commercial media abound, these hacks become serious irritants and the brand is often correctly implicated in the negative experience.”

The new marketing koan: How do you brand zero?

I dunno …

But at the risk of looking like a hijacked ant waiting for a fluke (see this Dan Dennett Ted Talk for the inside joke), let me throw out some fodder for you to respond to.

My first thought is the simple hope that Less is More.

Here is an example: Just last week I was turned on to this global fundraiser for autism through a tweet by Andrew Jenkins. Click through on the links to catch the 1 min vid if you want the full description.  In this case, the approach has a special meaning but perhaps the thesis of the campaign needs broader application?  Supporters were asked to practice a communication shutdown.  The idea is that attention to the cause would be raised through the absence on Twitter, Facebook and other communication channels of the participants or by their notes announcing such.  Okay - I think it works on this campaign.

UPDATE: Andrew Jenkins just brought another “going silent” option from the NYT to our attention.

Built to Fade?

Simple Green & Green Works (by Clorox) side by side

I asked John for an example of the new “alternatives—products with straightforward labeling and claims that don’t present an image designed to eclipse immediate reality.  He suggested that I take a look at www.simplegreen.com.  For a moment I felt elated.  I checked under my sink and low and behold, I had a me-brand-good experience!

This is was immediately surpassed, as John warns, by a feeling of trust lost and confusion when I discovered a similarly labeled product right next to my Simple Green made by the familiar CPG giant Clorox.  How can Clorox satisfy my need to be socially conscience with my cleaning products?  Aren’t they the same folks who have been selling me bleach and Ajax and SOS pads all these years?  Loreal just bought the Body Shop again right there in front of my eyes.

Maybe Clorox is a leader in delivering authentically green products?  Maybe Wal-Mart is on the right track?  Maybe Dove & the Body Shop are doing great things?  The point here is that fundamental disconnect that John predicts is not only sitting right under my sink, I bet every marketer out there understands that nagging gap that has emerged between consumers and even our best intentions to meet their higher order demands.

As I look around my house which was built in about 1919, I am reminded of the simple Shaker influence that was present in the original design and our efforts to maintain that consistency when we renovated before moving in. Much to my surprise, according to Wikipedia, the Shaker movement only attracted over 20,000 converts and even at its peak the group reached a maximum size of about 6,000.  Actually, I am really just reminded of that Dan Dennett vid about dangerous memes because he talks about the Shakers in it for a minute and half (from 9:00 to 10:30).  Feel free to take the time to listen to him.  Dennett concludes that the meme for Shakerdom was essentially a sterilizing parasite that ultimately led to the Shakers’ extinction.  Part of the creed of Shakerdom is that everyone should be celibate.

Making less noise than the irresponsible or keeping it simple out of principal can seem like a risky long term strategy.

Perhaps John is pushing us to consider brands that are more like waves than permanent things?  I know this post is too long already but I dare you to stick with it and follow that link to Richard Dawkin’s related Ted Talk.  The money quote comes at the 10:50 mark when Dawkins highlights Steve Grand’s observation that, “matter flows from place to place and momentarily comes together to be you” … or a brand????  As a new, twitter connection and self described transhumanist Zachary Moser pointed out, “It is interesting to see such a fundamental materialist (Dawkins) speak with such mystical overtones.”

Does the materialist answer John’s call for a new marketing koan?

It is not that far fetched.

Check out the New YorkTimes Magazine coverage of social product development platform Quirky.com. Or consider the possibilities of employing a prediction market to manage innovation? Or Dell’s idea storm.

UPDATE, Dec. 1, 2010: Or check out Calgary’s Chaordix and their great Crowdsourcing: Who’s Doing It? list.

Do you want to tap growth?

Do you want to tap growth?

With these kinds of model’s the sustainable value of the enterprise is derived through the networks that it is able to mobilize for a purpose.  Altruism can be an essential strategy, completely aligned with the corporate motive of growing margins and profits.

Maybe these kinds of enterprises are by nature smaller?  But then again why so?  They operate more virtually and can have a more just-in-time model for talent, capital, materials and geography.  In any event, when facing the imperatives of emerging China, India and the rest of the developing world, are you really interested in prolonging the game of mass?

As we come to understand that traditional brand is less accountable for our corporate valuations, I think we are going to need a way to manage and compare these new corporate assets of social capital laden networks.

Twitter Matters #7: Twitter Bot Auto-Debate

It has been a while since I have felt a desire or need to add to my Twitter Matters series, mostly because there are so many people writing about Twitter these days that you really need to pick your spots carefully to add any value to the conversation.

In this case, I feel that this story by Jolie O’Dell on Mashable detailing Nigel Leck’s use of a bot to intercept and reply to updates refuting climate change is an extension of the idea of Memetic Logo that I explored in this post about Frank Tentler’s Twishes project.

Like Frank, Nigel has established a memetic beacon that is establishing his position within the climate change debate and the networks of people involved in that debate.  Going further than Frank, Nigel has added some intelligence or at least basic logic to his auto-reply strategy and is augmenting his impact with a link into his content.

It would take careful execution for a commercial brand to consider a strategy like this.  I suspect that there could be some valuable application in crisis management.

I will find myself noodling about possible extrapolations of this.  Please help me out with a few thoughts in the comments below.

I have turned my evolving reflections about twitter into a series of posts.  Catch the other thoughts:

Why Twitter Matters #1: Follow me, Follow You on Twitter

Twitter Matters #2: Memetic Logos, the Case of Twishes

Why Twitter Matters #3: Escalopter

Why Twitter Matters #4: social capital discussion evolving

Comment, Kim Patrick Kobza, CEO, Neighborhood America: cognitive outliers, real time group cognition

Why Twitter Matters #5: Twitter and Social Capital

Why Twitter Matters #6: Twitter Love Song

UPDATE@Nov.4, 2008 - an overview of StockTwits from Stowe Boyd.

UPDATE@Dec.1, 2008 - Tim O’Reilly “Why I Love Twitter”

Memetic Sponder

Maybe just a sketch to you, but as I mentioned while we were talking - this kind of personal media, in terms of how it pervaded our time together and was so intimately intertwined with identity (both yours and mine) has a completely different fidelity than a vid or photo.

And the terms of how you live your life with several persona or channels open (i.e. web analyst and artist at once) seems inevitable to me, but very unevenly distributed … so … comfortably uncommon.

It gives Marshall Sponder memetic qualities.

Quality time. Thanks.

M. Cayley by Marshall Sponder

Where Good Ideas Come From. by Steven Johnson

“Chance favours the connected mind.”